A key court date to hear patent challenges to Sanofi-Aventis’ star clotbusting drug Plavix (clopidogrel) has been pushed back another two weeks, according to a statement from the company this morning. This is the fourth time a new trial date has been sought [[31/03/05c]].

The US District Court in New York made the move at the behest of both Sanofi-Aventis and one of the patent challengers – Canada’s Apotex Inc. The date for submission of the so-called pre-trial order has now been extended from May 13 to May 27.

The hearing will mark the culmination of two years of fighting, following a 2002 challenge by both Apotex and India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories [[04/04/02b]], and investors will be watching in earnest as the generics firms battle to secure the right to sell copycat versions of the blockbuster drug in the USA – where Sanofi’s US partner Bristol-Myers Squibb markets Plavix. And the latter will be particularly keen to preserve what has become the only jewel in its otherwise rather plain crown, reaping $814 million dollars for the first three months of this year [[29/04/05c]]. B-MS yesterday revealed it would be revising downwards its earnings expectations for the first quarter 2005 [[10/05/05]].

Sanofi-Aventis is due to announce its first-quarter results on May 13.